Friday, June 19, 2009

Snow Birds Behaving Badly

I think I need to tell you a little about you won't think I am a young person writing about what, how and when retired people do things. I am 67 (68 in November) years old and have been retired since I was 55. I have traveled across the United States and lived in an RV for month at a time. For the last three years I have lived 6 or so months out of the year in a RV Resort in Tucson, AZ. When it comes to Snowbirds and aging, I know what I am talking about.

So why do I need to tell you this...well here is the deal. It has to do with how we older people behave ourselves. I am beginning to think that older people do a lot of things they do because younger people give them permission. In yesterday's post I wrote about regulations for Snowbirds and today I just needed give you a little follow up. A few years ago someone wrote a poem call "Warning" and it went like this:


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other peoples' gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickles for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

by Jenny Joseph

People took this woman's advice to heart. It gave them license to behave badly. After all they are old therefore they have earned the privilege. Right? Well the answer has to be cannot behave badly or break laws or put other people in danger or "swear in the streets" or do any of the other things that you might think you can get away with because you are old. First of all, yesterday's old is today's middle age. Secondly, there are getting to be a huge number of old people so we need to remain civilized as long as possible. Thirdly, the laws apply to old people too. You really should not drive if you need oxygen to stay alive or cross three lanes of traffic at one gulp. But most importantly, acting as though we have license to behave badly just makes you and everyone else miserable.

I am always so interested that people feel sorry for old people. I have taken it as my personal mission to let people know that you do not need to feel sorry for old people. We do not need it. We want your respect. We want you to value our opinions and use our experience. We want you to need our help and guidance. When we are ill we need your love and support. But your pity? No thank you.

I think I am done. Give it some thought.



  1. As a sixty year old, I'm getting there. I respect old people for having survived because you have to be tough to do that, and I'm not sure I am.

  2. Yes, my mother used to say that being old took too much of her time. She had things to was a very good attitude.


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